The financial services market is going through many changes. New challengers have appeared and are looking for a slice of the market. In addition, customers are more demanding and more informed, expecting convenience and simplicity when it comes to financial services, particularly online and via mobile devices. People love digital services such as Netflix, Amazon, and Uber because they’re easy to use and deliver great customer experiences. They deliver 10 times more convenience and better customer experiences than the status quo, and are therefore winning the market. It’s only a matter of time before the 10-times-better bank is founded, a thought that’s on the radar of every banker.

This brings us to a new report we at Backbase published last month – Omni-channel banking: The digital transformation roadmap – which outlines the journey of creating the 10-times-better bank, providing a detailed analysis of how banks can begin their digital journey.

The report is based on the Omni-Channel Banking Survey conducted by Backbase, and completed by more than a hundred C-level bankers from across the globe. The report also contains the findings from more than 15 interviews with bank executives, as well as the 7 Habits of a Highly Successful Digital Bank, written by Roberto Ferrari, general manager of CheBanca!, the No 1 digital bank in Italy. The report highlights five important takeaways:

New competitors in banking: The disrupters
Discover how and why the market is changing – how it’s driven by customers, and by tech companies, startups, and neobanks.

Customer experience: The key ingredients
Understand how customer loyalty and retention is affected by a mix of superior digital experiences and human interaction, and how delivering this mix is the primary challenge.

Omni-channel and the changing channel mix
100% of the banks in the survey results rate the creation of a seamless omni-channel experience ‘important’ to ‘extremely important’.

Mobile’s impact on online sales and share of wallet
Customer behavior is affecting the channel mix and revenue generation. The survey results reveal that mobile channels record the highest increase in revenue generation.

Regaining control in the era of digitization
To succeed in the market and beat the disrupters, banks should regain control of business strategy, and be able to build and deliver unique experiences with their customers.

Download the full report for free via

We are on the road again for our yearly Backbase fall roadshow. I’m attending and speaking at the following events, ping me if you are attending as well or close by.

April Dunford just published the latest version of the RocketWatcher Startup Marketing Framework. Great input for every marketer in a B2B and enterprise software / tech / SaaS company.

startup marketing framework

As with previous versions, the framework does not attempt to cover things that I would consider to be more “Product Management” focused (like product roadmap for example). I’m taking a purely marketing point of view here.  The Framework also assumes that you have a product in market, you feel fairly confident that you have a good fit between your market and your offering and you are ready to invest in lead generation. If you aren’t there yet, there are things here you won’t need to (and more importantly, shouldn’t) worry about yet.   Lastly, my background is B2B marketing so like most content on this site, this has a B2B slant to it.  That said, I think most of it applies to a B2C startup.

Full blog post:

Marketing and fintech are fun, but sometimes you like to expand your knowledge and experiment in different areas. For me this area is web development. As a copy/paste developer that knows the LAMP stack reasonable well I decided to branch out and learn something new. Of course, you can spend most of your time deciding what to learn, and you end up in plenty of discussions about Ruby vs Python vs JavaScript and their many frameworks.

I decided to dive deeper into Python and the Flask framework. Main reason: it ‘feels OK’, it feels lean and I like how Python is clean, easy to learn and offers a mix of use cases: from data analysis to web development, etc.

Most people want to learn something to create something. However, in most cases you spend a lot of time getting your setup ready, building the most common things (login feature, database migrations) and you have to worry about how to host or deploy this. Therefor my first project on this new stack: creating a Simple App Blueprint.

With the Simple App Blueprint I want to create a basic repo that once cloned and configured gives you a powerful stack, ready to scale, that can instantly be deployed and makes you focus on creating the differentiator: your app, vs the basics.

See the GitHub repo at — let me know your comments!

The full stack:


Last Thursday, Jouk and I hosted our closing webinar of 2014, where we talked about Disruption in Digital Banking. Here a short summary. (You can watch the recording on our YouTube Channel, and the slide deck is available on Slideshare).

We all agree: customer behavior is changing. Customers are more and more looking for convenience. The convenience and simplicity the get online and on mobile, when watching their favorite show on Netflix, or when taking that cab with Uber. But where is convenience and simplicity in financial services?

Was the taxi-market ready for disruption? Maybe, but nobody was arguing as strong for disrupting the taxi-market as they are now chanting to disrupt financial services. And it is starting. Uber is booming, but the Uber in banking, LendingClub, is going even stronger. LendingClub went IPO last week, opened with an 56% increase in share price, giving it a whopping 9 billion dollar valuation, “lifting the company’s market value higher than all but 13 U.S. banks.

And it is not just LendingClub that is starting to target the traditional banks. Tom Loverro of RRE Ventures recently created this image:

Fintech companies attacking Wells Fargo.

Here you see the homepage of Wells Fargo — but know, this is true for every traditional  bank — and some of the larger fintech companies going after pieces of the banks market. And this is not just a few logos. Fintech companies in 2014 raised nearly $3 billion — more than tripling the $930M invested globally in fintech in 2008. Yes, fintech is hot.

So what can banks and credit unions do to  fight back and step up their own game? It is time that banks challenge the challenger and become disruptors themselves. To do this, they have to start by accelerating their digital transformation.

In our webinar, we defined 4 Key Focus Points for 2015 to help banks and credit unions change themselves:

1. Start with the Customer Experience

Of course, your customer comes first. But is this reflected in every department? For most banks ‘Customer First’ is the mantra in the customer contact centre, but a bit forgotten when it comes to the rest of the organization. To often I hear Heads of Customer Experience talk at conferences and discover that their main focus is the call center and the training of branch employees. Where is technolog in this picture?

We see the shift in customer behavior. It is about a personal and relevant, ‘anytime’ customer journey. A journey that starts more and more on a mobile device. But to deliver the best mobile experience, you need to do a lot of work on the back-end. You need to change the stack. From inside out with a main focus on network, hardware, and just a little bit data and UX, to full focus on UX, data (to deliver a personal experience) and where hardware and network are just an after thought. This is the only way to be able to truly start designing for moments of truth in a iterative approach. The approach that make the disrupters so successful, but is still almost impossible for most banks.

2. Pursue an Omni-Channel Delivery Model

Stop saying omni-channel is just a marketing buzzword. The fact is: customers are using multiple devices and multiple channels to accomplish a task overtime. And this is especially true when purchasing new products and services. As a customer I expect the same brand-experience on every device and in every channel, I really don’t care that your Mobile App lives in a different code base, controlled by yet another agency. I expect to be able to do a seamless handover between devices and channels. I can continu watching House of Cards in the train, on my tablet, why can’t I continue that long loan application form on my regular computer after I decided to stop on my smartphone?

To make this possible, banks have to move the a flexible customer experience layer that runs independently from the main stack. Banks should have flexible API’s for their main processes and core systems, and a orchestration layer in between to ensure hand-over and session persistency. Start working on this.

3. Regain Control of your Digital Strategy

To deliver on point 2 and 3: you have to be in control again. To many banks lost control over their digital strategy to an outside software vendor, or to a big and bloated internal IT team. Especially the Tier 3 and 4 banks and credit unions, they all look the same. Why? Three banking vendors dominate the market, they are in control. As a small bank or credit union the only thing that you can change in your digital channel is the logo, and if you are lucky, the color of the text. For the rest you look exactly the same as all your competitors. This cannot be the way forward in the age of digital disruption.

Banks have to regain control. Core banking should be core banking. And on the front-end you need a digital banking platform where you are in control. A digital banking platform that is unique, personal and relevant. A digital banking platform where business and IT teams can work together on innovation. A digital banking platform that is flexible enough to mix and match best of breed 3rd party systems for PFM, Bill Pay, Remote Check Deposit, etc. You like the innovation you see on the stage of Finovate? Make sure your digital banking platform can run widgets that actually can let you experiment with those vendors. (Yes, a shameless plug for Backbase Engage and our Open Banking Marketplace).

4. Define your Inspiring Purpose

But it is not all about technology and new platforms. Most neo-banks, such as Simple and Moven attract a following of people that want to change the world. People want to engage with brands they feel like they ‘understand them’. They want to be seen with their new Nike’s, they drink Coca Cola instead of Pepsi. They have an Android phone because they don’t want to be a Apple sheep (or visa-versa). But how often are you proud of your bank? Banks need to find their voice, their brand feel, and need to start building that personal community of followers. People should be making a decision for a FI because they believe in that company. Banks need to re-define their inspiring purpose.

Watch the full recording of this webinar here:

It’s easier than ever to create your own web- or mobile-app. Following updates on websites like Betalist and Product Hunt you see new apps literally popping up every hour. At the same time there is a tremendous wealth of resources available on making your startup or side-project a success. From lively discussions on Y-Combinator’s Hacker News, to blogs by successful SaaS founders and VC’s, to whole communities and Wiki’s on “growth hacking” best practices.

I really like this movement and the openness in sharing things that work. However this also causes the ‘Twitter Bootstrap Effect’¹ in startup marketing. After a while, everything starts to look the same, because people are doing the same. Best practices become common practices. And people lose the reason why they are doing something and just do it because it is on a check-list, and they see other apps doing it.

One of these nowadays common practices is sending emails from the ‘founder’ with a request for feedback. A great tool to get feedback and improve if this would genuine and personal. But in the last months this have become ‘yet another activation email’ that is fully automated. It gives me the feeling you are doing it because others are doing it and you feel you have to do it as well. Especially if I respond with feedback and instead of getting into a personal conversation (something you want, right?) I don’t receive a response at all, but another automated email from the ‘founder’ 3 days later. Please note: this is not one case, this happened five times in the last two weeks.

With the wealth of best practices and tips in making your app a success; don’t loose focus. Don’t just do what the “25 ways to make your app a success” article tells you to, or copy your competitors. Go back to the core: why are you doing it? Ask why 5 times (yes, another best practice, sorry :)). Be unique, be genuine.

¹ = the trend that every web-app started to look the same, because they used the same framework.

Last month Eric Schmidt, who joined Google back in 2001, published the book ‘How Google Works‘, sharing what he learned after 13 years of explosive growth.

The book gives a great insight in the thinking of Google and its leaders. And covers how the internet, mobile, and cloud computing has shifted the balance of power from companies to consumers.

Recommended reading!

I really like how interwoven technology has become in our daily life. From computers you booted up once a day, to smartphones you use over 50 times a day, to wearable technology that is there always. Even when you sleep.

One of the front-runners in this space is Jawbone. And they are publishing some interesting data about their user base. I started following them after they showed how a recent earthquake impacted sleep for some of their users, and now they published some nice stats about average bed times across regions in the United States.

Clear that New York and Las Vegas stand out in this regards. Find the full article on the Jawbone blog: Which Cities Get the Most Sleep? And you can see the moving gif I created here.

Yesterday was the first day of Sibos, one of the largest financial conferences in the world, this year taking place in Boston, US. The most interesting sessions are taking place in the Innotribe section, where day one was all about cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin and the like. The live stream is up and the videos are available on their YouTube Channel.

I’m going on tour! In the next few months I will be presenting our new digital banking solution, Backbase Engage, as six events across the United States: starting with Finovate in New York and finishing at Netfinance Interactive in San Diego.

If you’re attending any of the events listed below, please let me know and come and say hello!